Zero Waste: A Systems Approach Gaining Global Ground

Oct 16, 2011 by Paula Lombardo | Story Popularity: 7


There is no such thing as "waste" in Nature. In nature, the by-product of one system is feedstock for another system. Only humans have created this thing called "waste."Ancient Hawai`ians lived this way before the term "Zero Waste" came to be. And we can live this way again through small shifts in our daily activities. In this way, we greatly reduce our impact on Hawai'i Island's natural environment, and how much rubbish we generate, protect Hawai'i Island's natural environment, preserve our resources for future generations, and save our community tax dollars.

Recycling has become a national habit, a daily ritual practiced by millions of people every day. Yet recycling alone will not end our dependency on landfills and incinerators, nor reverse the rapid depletion of our natural resources. As world population and consumption continue to rise, it is clear that our one-way or cradle-to-grave system of extracting virgin resources to make packaging and products that will later be buried or burned is not sustainable.

Continue reading on Zero waste: A new systems approach gaining global ground - Honolulu Sustainable Living |


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  1. Great reporting at your link Paula. Hope all is well with you!

    We're working on ways to promote or implement these very ideas for the upcoming Waste Challenge.

  2. Thanks Rachel! Great to hear from you...just too bad I don't have the time right now to hang out with you and the crew at Kanu! Soon.

  3. Olin Lagon says:

    Wow what is that picture? A guy in a river?

  4. Great question Olin! Actually that is part of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch - an enormous collection of trash that is collected and deposited by ocean currents in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. The trash mainly comprises of plastic debris and is not only huge but is also scattered along a wide expanse making it difficult to clear up the choked-up water space ( For more info., see my article on Sustainable Seafood on

  5. HI guys, I'm afraid I might have to disagree with you about the picture. I've been to a few symposiums on the garbage patch and this could be at a pacific island where trash has accumulated. However, the gyre itself is usually not recognizable from the surface in the middle of the ocean, and it is pretty far from inhabited land. You can look to centers like or to see more.

    I'm pretty sure this photo is from the Citarum River in Indonesia. You can search google images. When I have seen pictures like the one above, they are from places in South East Asia where either local trash accumulates or near places where we ship our plastic to be "recycled," out of sight out of mind. There's more on that practice in this Ted video:

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